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Mosque attack ‘hits at heart of what is sacred’, says Catholic bishop

The attack on a Muslim prayer leader at a London mosque “strikes at the heart of all that we hold to be sacred”, a Catholic bishop has said.

The auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Paul McAleenan, condemned last week’s knife attack at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, in which a knifeman stabbed muezzin Raafat Maglad in the back as he was leading the call to prayer.

Mr Maglad, who is in his 70s, was rushed to hospital following the attack on Thursday, 20th February but returned to the mosque less than 24 hours later for Friday prayers.

He was left with a “very deep cut” to his neck but said he forgives his attacker.

Bishop McAleenan said he was relieved that Mr Maglad’s injuries were not life threatening and voiced his hope that the attack would not stop any Muslims from attending and praying at the mosque.

“We rejoice that the muezzin was not seriously injured in the attack in London Central Mosque,” Bishop McAleenan told The Catholic Universe. “We pray that he will make a full and complete recovery and resume his honourable task of calling others to prayer.

“This particular incident strikes at the heart of all that we hold to be sacred, it was a violation of a person while in a dedicated place, a place set apart for the worship of God.

“May all those who assemble in London Central Mosque continue their sincere and humble prayer knowing that the vast majority of people stand with them against violence and wish them well.”

Mr Maglad, who is originally from Sudan, said he had seen the attacker previously worshipping at the mosque.

With his right arm in a sling and a bandage over his wound, Mr Maglad told reporters: “I forgive him. I feel very sorry for him.”

He added: “What is done is done, he is not going to return.”

Recalling the attack, Mr Maglad said: “He hit me. I just felt blood flowing from my neck and that’s it, they rushed me to the hospital. Everything happened all of a sudden.”

Mr Maglad, who has been the muezzin for 30 years, said that as a Muslim he does not hold any hatred in his heart and that it was “very important” for him to attend Friday prayers.

“If I miss it, I just miss something very important. It is very important for us as Muslims,” he added.

Daniel Horton, a 29-year-old homeless man, has appeared in court charged with stabbing Mr Maglad. He is accused of grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article.

Horton, who the court heard had been sleeping rough since last year, was remanded in custody by District Judge Nina Tempia to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 20th March. He was said to have been a regular attendee at the mosque for some months prior to the attack.

Picture: Police outside the London Central Mosque, near Regent’s Park, north London, where a man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on Thursday 20th February after police were called to reports of a stabbing. (Kirsty O’Connor/PA).